Jordan Cooper, 21, was working at Olive Garden on Sunday night when she and her coworkers noticed something was odd about the family they just seated. At the table were two parents and two children, one of which was only a year old. When Cooper approached the table, she knew something was wrong.
“I first walked around to the baby,” said Cooper, according to a report by WPSD. “She looked at me with a face that said help.”
“I can’t even describe to you how bad she looked,” Cooper continued, “and how and why nobody noticed it.”
As she worked her shift at the Paducah, Kentucky Olive Garden, Cooper took a photo with another table, allowing them to capture an image the family which was positioned behind her.
“I slid [the other table] my number, and they sent [the photos] to me as soon as they walked out the door.”
During the evening, the adults at the table – Mark Lee Pierce, 33, and his girlfriend, 36-year-old Jessica Woodworth – grew suspicious, trying to pay their check quickly.
As the family left, Cooper followed them outside and recorded a partial license plate number and called 911.
“I immediately got home and plugged my phone up,” said Cooper. “I could not just not know what was going to happen to her.”
Cooper shared the photo of the little girl on Facebook, along with the partial plate, and asked people to help identify the family.
Aaron Caldwell, a childhood classmate and Metropolis 911 dispatcher, saw the post and took action.
“I got everything so I could run him and find who he was,” he said. “I found that and ended up contacting Paris Police Department, Tennessee.”
“I even went further into it through social media to find his girlfriend, who lived in Pulaski, Illinois,” said Caldwell.
Caldwell contacted both agencies. About 20 minutes later, he received a call from the Paris Police Department saying that the two children had been removed from the home and that Pierce and Woodworth were arrested on aggravated child abuse and neglect charges.
“There’s a lot of times we don’t find people like this,” said Caldwell.
“I’m so glad that I did,” said Cooper, “because she could still be getting hands put on her.”